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Transport / Fewer injury accidents since 20mph speed limit was introduced in town centre

THE RATE of road traffic accidents resulting in injury in the centre of Lerwick have decreased since traffic calming measures were introduced five years ago.

A meeting of Shetland’s community safety and resilience board last week heard that the rate of injury accidents between 2017, when the measures were implemented, and 2019 was 0.3 a year.

Previous data shows there were 26 in the previous 17 years – a yearly rate which at 1.5 is five times higher.

As part of the project the speed limit in the centre of Lerwick was reduced from 30mph to 20mph, and a number of speed cushions were also installed.

Not everyone in the community was pleased with the move at the time, with some claiming it was not the best use of public funds.

But chairman of the local authority’s road safety advisory panel councillor Robbie McGregor said the measures have made a “huge difference”.

He noted, however, there has not been many cruise liners in since 2020 due to the pandemic, which brings in a huge influx of pedestrians to the area.

“But if the traffic is slowed down, it’s bound to make a difference,” McGregor said.

Living Lerwick manager Emma Miller said the organisation has footfall counters in the town centre, but they have not been in place for a while.

“Obviously, any measures that improve pedestrian safety are welcome,” she said, “but I can’t say with any evidence that people walking into town has increased over the past four years since the measures were implemented”.

Miller added: “Living Lerwick is committed to investigating new innovations that can combine speed control measures with comfortable access for drivers to the town centre, and it’s a specific action in our business plan to work with the council to identify and implement such measures.”

Meanwhile McGregor said outside of Lerwick he will continue to campaign for a reduced speed limit in Cunningsburgh and Quarff.

He explained that council officers say these roads do not meet the national guidelines for reducing the limit.

But McGregor said he understood that the Society of Chief Officers for Transportation in Scotland is currently looking into whether councils may be able to vary things in the future to reflect local circumstances.